It is a commonly accepted idea that men prefer the company of younger women, while women prefer men who are older.This is also in keeping with Parental Investment Theory, which maintains that men are attracted to women who advertise signs of fertility — that is, youth.Conversely, women are drawn to older men since they typically have greater resources.
In a classic study of human mating from 1989, David Buss surveyed 37 cultures across 6 continents and found that in every culture in question, men preferred to marry younger women (2.66 years younger on average) and women preferred to marry older men (3.42 years older on average).
In addition, Buss collected actual age differences at marriage for 27 of the 37 cultures, and across the board men normally married women who were younger than themselves.
And in a 1993 study that analyzed over 1,000 personal ads, researchers found that women typically sought older men, and men typically sought younger women.
Similarly, in a 1994 study using a nationally representative sample of single Americans younger than 35, the results revealed that women were significantly more willing than men to marry someone older by five years; conversely, men were significantly more willing than women to marry someone who was younger by five years.
That is, men gave lower ratings to dates where the man was older.
Likewise, women also rated the dates lower when the man was older than the woman.
For sample, there were also significantly more couples in which the man was older as opposed to the woman being older, 72 and 27 pairs, respectively.
And though not statistically significant, the ratings of dates were this time in the predicted direction.
In another study from 2001, researchers asked Dutch men and women between the ages of 20 and 60 about their age preferences for various types of intimate situations, ranging from sexual fantasies to marriage. Malouf of Endicott College wondered if testing the age differential hypothesis using a new source of data might yield more insight into the matter.
They, too, found that men predictably preferred younger partners than did women. To this end, they collected all available ratings of blind dates that were published in two well-known American newspaper columns: “Dinner with Cupid” from Both newspaper columns advertise for singles who are willing to give a blow-by-blow report of a blind date as well as a numerical rating in exchange for a free dinner at a restaurant.
Those responsible at these respective newspapers make their best effort to make a match, which is based on participants' answers to an online questionnaire.